Will you be doing a Spring clean this year? And if you are, will you be sorting through your old electrical items too or will they be left and forgotten about? I have to admit our small electricals are not really something I deliberately de-clutter. But after joining in with Recycle Your Electricals Little Spring Clean and going on a small electrical finding mission, I discovered so many broken cables in just one box that I wasn’t surprised to find out;
The total number of cables hoarded in UK homes (140 million) could circle the Earth more than 5 times.Hidden Treasure reserach – Recycle Your Electricals, 2020
New research estimates that UK households are hoarding 527 million small old electricals, an average of nearly 20 per household, and throwing away 155,000 tons of these items every year. This is contributing to one of the fastest-growing waste streams in the nation and in the world, estimated to cost the UK economy over £370 million of lost valuable raw materials such as gold, copper, aluminium and steel.
So what should we do with our unwanted or broken small electrical items? If they are still usable, sell or donate them and if they aren’t, recycle them.
You might be surprised to discover that 75% of our old electricals can be recycled. And yet we DONT recycle them! I know I am pretty good at selling and donating our unused electricals but I tend to just leave anything that is broken or I am unsure of as I haven’t known the best way to recycle them.
However, recycling old electrical items is easier than you think. Recycle Your Electricals recommends you gather up all the small electricals you no longer need and store them in a bag together. Then check their easy recycling locator to find your nearest repair, reuse or recycling point. Some councils collect directly from your home. Otherwise, keep your electricals in your bag until you can visit a drop-off point.
If you recycle your old electricals in the right way, almost all the materials get processed in the UK and become a valuable UK commodity. Tiny amounts of precious metals in millions of old electricals can be salvaged and turned into valuable new products rather than wasted.
For example, if all the old laptops hoarded across the UK were recycled, they could provide enough aluminium to produce 159,000 bikes; enough steel to make 12,000 playground swings or enough plastic to make nearly 5 million life-saving defibrillators.
But not only that, recycling saves CO2emissions. If all those 32 million laptops currently being hoarded in homes were recycled;
980,000 tonnes of CO2emissions would have been saved, equivalent to taking 458,000 cars off the road – a significant contribution to the UK’s goal of net zero carbon by 2050.
Hidden Treasure reserach – Recycle Your Electricals, 2020
The most important thing is that they don’t end up in landfill. Electric items if not disposed of properly by being recycled can also create other problems.
Recycling all our old unwanted electricals could also create hundreds of new jobs in electrical reuse and recycling.
The little spring clean encouraged us to really look for those forgotten about electricals. Along with the many unusable cables we found old gaming handsets, a pair of broken headphones, a very old unused phone and a broken tablet. All are now in a bag ready to be taken to our nearest recycling point.
So this year when you are having your spring clean don’t forget about those old small electricals hiding away. Delve into those drawers and the back of your cupboards and get recycling!